films seen
16
average score
2.96*
nationality
China - 69 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

Chen is a very competent fifth generation director who handles both rural dramas and big fantasy epics with deceptive ease. One of the few who survived the big millennial shift in China, resulting in a rich, varied and satisfactory oeuvre.

Rare treats

Legend of the Demon Cat

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Kukai
Specifics
2017 / 129m - China
Genre
Fantasy, Mystery
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Legend of the Demon Cat poster

Kaige Chen builds upon his previous film and delivers a magnificent fantasy/mystery. The plot is laid out step by step, progressing calmly and deliberately, but it's the visuals that blew me away. The shoddy CG is kept to a minimum this time around, the rest is simply eye-wateringly beautiful.

The good stuff

Monk Comes Down the Mountain

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Dao Shi Xia Shan
Specifics
2015 / 123m - China
Genre
Comedy, Fantasy
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Monk Comes Down the Mountain poster

Monk Comes Down the Mountain is above all a very amusing film. Chen made a light-hearted, fun and playful little romp, which rises above itself thanks to its tremendous production value.

Solid pieces

Sacrifice

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Zhao Shi Gu Er
Specifics
2010 / 122m - China
Genre
Drama, History
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Sacrifice poster

Forever Enthralled

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Mei Lanfang
Specifics
2008 / 147m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Drama, Biography, History
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Forever Enthralled poster

The Promise

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Wu Ji
Specifics
2005 / 121m - USA, China
Genre
Fantasy, Action
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Promise poster

The Emperor and the Assassin

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Jing Ke Ci Qin Wang
Specifics
1999 / 162m - Japan, France
Genre
Drama, Romance, History
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
The Emperor and the Assassin poster

Temptress Moon

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Feng Yue
Specifics
1996 / 130m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Drama, Romance
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Temptress Moon poster

The inoffensive

My People, My Country

by Kaige Chen, Hu Guan, Hao Ning, Muye Wen, Zheng Xu, Xiaolu Xue, Yibai Zhang
Also known as
Wo He Wo De Zu Guo
Specifics
2019 / 158m - China
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
My People, My Country poster

There's a lot of flag-waving and chest-thumping going on here, but look past that and you'll find a decent anthology celebrating the achievements of the little people, helmed by some of China's prime directors. It was a little too sentimental and overdone in places, but it wasn't as terrible as I had initially feared it would be.

Chacun Son Cinéma

by Theodoros Angelopoulos, Olivier Assayas, Bille August, Jane Campion, Youssef Chahine, Kaige Chen, Michael Cimino, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, David Cronenberg, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Manoel de Oliveira, Raymond Depardon, Atom Egoyan, Amos Gitai, Hsiao-hsien Hou, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Aki Kaurismäki, Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Andrey Konchalovskiy, Claude Lelouch, Ken Loach, David Lynch, Nanni Moretti, Roman Polanski, Raoul Ruiz, Walter Salles, Elia Suleiman, Ming-liang Tsai, Gus Van Sant, Lars von Trier, Wim Wenders, Kar-Wai Wong, Yimou Zhang
Specifics
2007 / 100m - France
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
Chacun Son Cinéma poster

King of the Children

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Hai Zi Wang
Specifics
1987 / 106m - China
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
3.0*/5.0*
King of the Children poster

A nice and solemn little drama about a teacher moving to a small mountain commune in order to tutor the local kids. The pacing is rather slow, but the setting is beautiful, the cinematography is on point and the actors do a solid job. The token social critique isn't very subtle, but the film had enough other qualities to keep me engaged.

Worthy but flawed

Caught in the Web

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Sou Suo
Specifics
2012 / 117m - China
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Caught in the Web poster

Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet

by Kaige Chen, Víctor Erice, Werner Herzog, Jim Jarmusch, Aki Kaurismäki, Spike Lee, Wim Wenders
Specifics
2002 / 92m - USA, Spain
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet poster

Together

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
He Ni Zai Yi Qi
Specifics
2002 / 116m - China, South Korea
Genre
Drama, Music
More info:
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Together poster

A decent but very predictable drama. Performances are all over the place, the plot isn't all that interesting and characters remain quite stereotypical. It's not a terrible film though and Chen's baseline quality shines through from time to time, but I expected more from this film. Decent filler, nothing more.

Farewell My Concubine

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Ba Wang Bie Ji
Specifics
1993 / 171m - Hong Kong, China
Genre
Drama, Romance, Music
More info:
rating
2.5*/5.0*
Farewell My Concubine poster

Plain forgettable

Yellow Earth

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Huang Tu Di
Specifics
1984 / 89m - China
Genre
Drama, Music
More info:
rating
1.5*/5.0*
Yellow Earth poster

Kaige Chen is a director whose career got off to a rough start. Part of China's 5th Generation, his early work lacks the finesse of fellow director Yimou Zhang and is easily categorized as a bland and depressing arthouse drama. Yellow Earth is another film about the Chinese revolutionaries, full of poverty-stricken rural vistas and shrill Chinese folk songs.

Yellow Earth is a widely celebrated film of course, everyone in the West loves it when China portrays itself as a nation full of country bumpkins who are trailing at least one century behind Western civilization. I've grown tired of these films and without the stylistic prowess of his contemporaries, there's just very little here for me.

Performances are mediocre, the soundtrack is a struggle and the landscape photography isn't as nice as it should've been. The entire film ends up being a test of patience, with only a handful moments that break free from its depressing reigns. At least it's not too long, but I prefer Chen's more recent output.

Big nopes

The Big Parade

by Kaige Chen
Also known as
Da Yue Bing
Specifics
1986 / 94m - China
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
1.0*/5.0*
The Big Parade poster